After 5 years of conservation breeding and preparations the Prigen Conservation Breeding Ark (PCBA) are finally engaging in a first trial release of 40 Javan Pied Starlings (Gracupica jalla). The release site is directly onto the grounds of Taman Safari Indonesia II Jatim. This is a large Safari Park which provide not only the right type of landscape but also a high degree of monitoring opportunities and a high level of safety for the desired birds.
It is suspected that this semi-wild population on the grounds will be the only free flying population known. This is an important opportunity to learn about how these birds which have been maintained in captivity for many generations will behave in the wild.
All 40 individuals provided free-roaming access to the wild hatched at PCBA and were raised by their parents in the breeding center. Before the transfer to the soft release aviary, which will serve the birds with a safe area and a guaranteed food source, all selected starlings underwent a final health check, and received additional colour identification rings.
Initially the young birds spend several weeks getting visually used to their new environment and the new neighbours. The habituation aviary is located near the savanna exhibits and the new neighbours include large herbivorous herds from Africa, such as Giraffes, Eland and Ostriches although not geographically fitting they serve the same ecological function as native herbivores such as the Banteng and the Javan Rusa Deer. The Javan Pied Starling will benefit from the insects that will swarm and breed around these animals which in turn benefits from the starling’s appetite for irritating invertebrates and alertness towards predators. It is hoped that a natural symbiosis can be brought back in existence.
PCBA Staff and colleagues will be busy monitoring the movements and behaviour of the released flock as well as engaging with the local communities in the wider area to ensure the wellbeing of the population.
The Javan Pied Starling (Gracupica jalla) is Critically Endangered widely believed to be extinct in the wild read these interesting papers to learn more about their ecology and plight.
2021 Nijman et al. Large-Scale Trade in a Songbird That Is Extinct in the Wild https://doi.org/10.3390/d13060238
2021 van Balen and Collar. The Vanishing Act: A History and Natural History of the Javan Pied Starling Gracupica jalla https://doi.org/10.5253/arde.v109i1.a1
2020 Baveja et al. Using historical genome-wide DNA to unravel the confused taxonomy in a songbird lineage that is extinct in the wild https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.13149